After Germany passed a law requiring Google to pay news publishers for publishing snippets and thumbnails in the search results, it took only two weeks for publishers to concede and ask for Google to return their Google News listings to the way they appeared prior to the judgement. And now we have more details about just how significant the damage was to those news publishers.
Germany’s largest news publisher, Axel Springer, had wanted the restrictions placed on Google that would give the company compensation for showing snippets and thumbnails in Google News for their four largest sites, welt.de, computerbild.de, sportbild.de and autobild.de.
In the two weeks that Google blocked the snippets and thumbnails and only displayed links in order to protect their liability, their traffic from Google News dropped by 80% and their Google search traffic – from which Google News results get displayed – dropped by 40%.
Chief Executive Mathias Doepfner said on Wednesday that his company would have “shot ourselves out of the market” if it had continued with its demands for the U.S. firm to pay licensing fees. Springer had sought to restrict Google’s use of news from four of its top-selling brands: welt.de, computerbild.de, sportbild.de and autobild.de, the company said.
Springer, which publishes Europe’s top-selling daily newspaper Bild, said Google’s grip over online audiences was too great to resist, a double-edged compliment meant to ram home the publisher’s criticism of what it calls Google’s monopoly powers.
Since the ruling in Germany, Spain has also passed their own law, which will come into effect in 2015, although theirs is even more all encompassing. The Spain law could see Google face fines for up to €600,000 for merely linking to a news site without paying compensation.
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